Monday, July 27, 2015

revisited/night market: i strongly recommend RAOHE NIGHT MARKET

Raohe night market is one of the most popular and oldest night markets in Taipei. A short subway or taxi ride from Xinyi or DaAn districts, Raohe has two bright signs marking the front and back main entrances of the night market.

I had what I thought was some mediocre food the last time I visited Raohe with some out of town friends, so it's been a few years since I've had the urge to revisit. Thanks to some new friends from Singapore who chose it as our meeting spot, I fell in love with the popular flaky pepper buns, the grilled oyster mushrooms, mango shaved ice and found a vendor serving one of my favorite night market snacks, the ice cream "burrito" with peanut candy shavings and cilantro. 

The pepper buns at the entrance of the Raohe night market and can be spotted by a winding queue of people waiting and a team of quick fingered people wrapping minced pork and green onions in doughy balls to be cooked in tandoor like ovens. The result is a pepper bun that is too hot to hold, a crunchy crust on the bottom and peppery and sweet meatball inside the bun. It's worth coming to Raohe just for this. 

Here's a glance at some of the other stands I spotted at Raohe. What's your favorite thing to eat at this night market? 


Rubber duck cotton candy 

Get your Taiwanese sausage from this vendor.. The first one we got from another vendor was so bad- pretty much just fat inside a sausage casing and the first time I had to throw something away that I bought at the night market. Taiwanese sausage should be firm and slightly chewy, on the sweet side and not all fat!!! 

Yeaaa. Favorite! 

Monday, July 06, 2015

drinks/american: i strongly recommend WOOGO SMOOTHIES

No. 42, Lane 233, DunHua S. Road, Sec. 1
(Edited 8/2016: this location has been closed for awhile. I've spotted their shops in various Citylink malls and near Taipei Main Station. Check their Facebook page for updated addresses)

(02) 2778-0182 

MRT: ZhongXiao/Dunhua

website: WooGo's FB page 

hours: 11AM - 10PM

$ (Cash only)

Kid friendliness: yes

Visit reviewed: 6/9/2015

Taipei skipped over the smoothie phase straight into cold-pressed juices, juice cleanses and juice bars craze this past year (with the openings of Juice In, Juicy Diary, Juice 8, Boost Juice, Goodies Cleanse, Vegg Out), but smoothies still hold a special place in my heart. At each of my jobs post college, there was a Jamba Juice nearby to hit up with co-workers during our lunch break or after work. Sometimes when we didn't have enough time to eat, we drank our smoothies on the go. 

When I first moved back to Taipei, there was a smoothie shop at (then) Warner Village, but it eventually closed down. There were plenty of sugary boba tea shops or fresh fruit juice places, but somehow no smoothies. The five founders of WooGo noticed this gap too, and opened WooGo Juice in 2013 to serve California style smoothies,  icy smoothies blended from frozen fruit, yogurt or sorbet and ice of styrofoam cups. All the sorbets and yogurts are made in house, and prices are quite reasonable from NT$75-110 with M, L and XL sized cups available.

Located in an alley behind Ming Yao Department Store, I must have passed by the store dozens of times since one of my favorite bakeries is nearby. I'm glad I finally gave it a try. Now I (and you) have a place to go when I'm craving Jamba Juice. 

Both English and Chinese menus available, with over a dozen smoothies to choose from, in categories of classics, WTF and Tropical. Hot drinks and bagels and cream cheese are also available. There's a couple of small tables to chill inside as well as on outside on the patio.

Scanning the menu, the one that popped out to me was the Raspberry Mojito (NT$$95 for large) with cranberry juice, lemon juice, mulberry sorbet, raspberries and mint leaves. The mint and lemon definitely gave it a brightness and it was a good mix of sour and sweet and the perfect thickness and iciness. Loved it, who wouldn't want to drink mojito smoothies? 

The PBJ Sandwich sounds so strange to me, but lots of people on Instagram said it was their favorite. On my second visit, I tried the Strawberry Lemonade and the Pineapple Paradise, which were both great too, the lemonade being slightly more sour than the pineapple in a side by side tasting. 

The WooGo cup is a lot of fun with charts and facts to read on the go, and it's interesting they choose to make it completely in English with no Chinese. 

Are there enough people in Taipei who want to drink California Smoothies? I hope so. It seems healthier than boba milk teas and blended ice coffees, and cheaper than a Starbucks or shaved ice fix. I wonder if the juice bars have taken off more than smoothies because it seems more healthy and it's not as "icy", since some Taiwanese people avoid ice water and icy drinks. (I've never had more warm water until after I moved back to Taiwan. Now when I go back to LA, I can't drink restaurant water where the ice is filled up to the brim.) But smoothies... happy to have smoothies I can grab and go in Taipei. 


HOYII Taipei Main Station 台北車站店: 
No. 36, ZhongXiao W. Road, Sec. 1, B1 
(02) 2311-4733

No. 1 Nanjing W. Road